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Saturday, 07 August 2010 18:35

I got involved in a very interesting project at work with fMRI and presurgical mapping. A couple years ago the neurosurgery department at Hartford Hospital contacted the Olin center to form a collaboration with us. The goal was to have patients who were about to undergo brain surgery to do some simple fMRI tasks to map out language, motor, visual areas before surgery. The research has two parts: 1) help the surgeon avoid removing important areas of the brain if possible 2) get information back from the surgery to see if our estimations of language, motor, visual areas were accurate. During the surgery, the surgeon stimulates areas of the brain to 'turn off' activity in those areas. If the person can no longer speak when an area is stimulated, then that area is responsible for language.

My involvement was in the second part, comparing the computed areas of activation from fMRI with the real stimulation results. To do this, we needed to get the coordinate of the point of stimulation that actually did something. So for example the surgeon identifies an area responsible for language, and we note the location of the probe on the navigation system. Originally, the neurosurgery department was using BrainLab navigation system (which they still are), which did not directly give us coordinates back after the surgery. It was my job to attempt to decrypt the output from BrainLab to get the coordinates we wanted, however the department chose to trial the Medtronic system recently. This system gave us the exact coordinates we wanted, in image space! We will see what happens as the Medtronic trial moves on.

Observing surgery was pretty interesting. Those surgeons are amazing: no sitting, eating, or bathroom for 7 hours.

Last Updated on Thursday, 19 August 2010 15:04
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